My table is full

By Donna Benton

I don’t remember a time when anyone actually assigned seats around the holiday table at Ma’s house. I’m guessing it just happened over time as each new grandkid went from lap to high chair to a real seat at the table. Of course, Grandad was at the head of the table, but besides that there’s never been a real rhyme or reason to the seating arrangement. In-laws and cousins, interspersed in their usual seats, pass around the rolls, gravy, and green bean casserole.

Rosie (from left), Donna Benton, Ben, Joey, Joseph and Debbie.

Ma’s chair is to the left of Grandad’s and she’s always the last to take her seat. She scurries from the dining room to the kitchen until someone hollers that we are all going to starve if she doesn’t hurry up and sit down! A row of cousins sits across the table from my spot. I’ve watched them across this table as they grew from giggling boys into young gentlemen. And to my right sits the last grandkid and only girl. She was the last one to use the high chair and, just to be a jokester, she sat in it until her feet touched the ground. I won’t call you out by name, Ash, I don’t want to embarrass you! And that’s the way it was. The whole family gathered, packed in elbow to elbow, yet still a perfect fit. It seemed like it would be that way forever. 

But lately, there are some new faces around the table. Our circle is growing again as our youngsters start to build families of their own. We don’t all fit around the table anymore, but we squeeze in anyway, sharing new conversations and traditions. And with that growth comes the realization that we will also have some empty seats from time to time as the kiddos make their own traditions. It’s bittersweet, but it makes me think about how thankful I am to have a healthy, happy family.

This year, our table will be full, but my heart is heavy for my friends who will be missing loved ones at their tables and I wish them peace. My wish for everyone is that they will embrace and enjoy their families this year. Set trivial concerns aside and truly celebrate your friends and family. Happy Holidays! 

Donna Benton
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